Formula 1 – “Adieu World Championship”: Leclerc under pressure in a title fight

Le Castelte (dpa) – After Charles Leclerc’s bitter disaster, Ferrari quickly switched to offensive mode. “There is no reason why we can’t win the last 10 races,” said Scuderia team principal Mattia Binotto. “I’m very positive because the package is right.”

Star driver Leclerc lost 25 points in the overall standings to Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen, who is now 63 points ahead after 12 of 22 races, due to his mistake on Sunday at Le Castellet, France.

Ferrari makes life unnecessarily difficult for itself

Was this really an initial decision in a title fight? “Farewell to the French Grand Prix and perhaps also the world championship,” wrote the Italian daily La Repubblica. It’s certainly too early to do so, but Swiss “Blake” put the problem in a nutshell: “This makes it easier for world champion Max Verstappen to win his second world title in 2022.” As the Dutchman coldly exploits the competition’s mistakes, Ferrari makes life unnecessarily difficult for itself. Either due to technical issues or driving errors like on Sunday by rival Leclerc, who took off while in the lead.

The 24-year-old from Monaco does not deal well with pressure, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve judged in a column for “Formule1.nl” and went on to say that dealing with difficult situations is “the big difference for Verstappen”: “We have a championship One with two relatively powerful cars, but one of them has a lot to offer.” Former German champion Nico Rosberg also found on Sky that Leclerc “must not allow” such errors.

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“Possible title fight”

Even if the reasons were different, this was Leclerc’s third failure this season at Le Castellet. “The Ferrari is the strongest, so it’s not over yet,” Rosberg said of the title duel. The Italian racing team is convinced of this, too. “We have the potential. Yes, it was a mistake by Charles, it could happen, but he’s a great driver,” said Binotto, who saw no reason to criticize his driver.

Teammate Carlos Sainz, winner of Great Britain, jumped alongside Leclerc. “What happened to him could happen to anyone, including me or Max, because we always drive at the limit and push. I’m sure he will recover from that,” the Spaniard said. Leclerc already has a chance to do better at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on Sunday. The last race before the three-week summer break is all about getting closer to Verstappen. “I’ve already told Charles and Carlos that we have new goals, which is a double win,” Binotto said.

Memories of the 2018 race

With a challenge, especially for Red Bull, the Italians are trying to distract attention from their flaws. It also reminds us a lot of 2018, when Sebastian Vettel had the best chance of winning the title in a Ferrari. In the battle with Mercedes, the Scuderia owned the best car for a long time, but could not use it due to accidents, horse riding and other errors. “My enemy is myself,” Vettel said of himself at the time. He had to concede the title to Lewis Hamilton and lost his best chance in the red rider.

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On Sunday, Hamilton said of the situation at Ferrari: “It’s not easy to be at this pace and this performance and to deal with it. It’s a tough job and I feel for the whole team.” As a seven-time world champion, he knows the problems.

Sometimes there were obvious mistakes, sometimes just bad luck – 2018 and 2022 are the same for Ferrari. At that time, Silver Arrows worked more purposefully and focused, and now history can repeat itself with Red Bull. Since Kimi Raikkonen’s victory in 2007, Ferrari has been waiting for the Formula 1 world champion. Former champions Fernando Alonso and Vettel failed in their attempt to bring Schumi’s old glory back to the team. Leclerc, who quickly admitted his mistake in France, is now more challenged than ever. “This is unacceptable and I have to deal with it,” he said.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220725-99-147260 / 2

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